Coupled payments will see factories keep prices low – ICSA
Farmers are wary of falling for the calls for a coupled payment for sucklers, the ICSA has warned.

The meat industry wants a coupled payment so that farmers continue to produce more and more cattle at a price less than the cost of production, ICSA suckler chair John Halley has said.

“It’s really that simple and it has always been the policy of the meat industry,” he said, adding that Meat Industry Ireland’s call for a coupled payment for sucklers is no surprise.

Misguided proposal

“Farmers need to be very wary of falling for this misguided proposal. If the meat industry wants sucklers, it should pay a fair price. A coupled payment is a cop-out by the meat industry to keep farmers losing money on production.

“Farm organisations that support the meat industry proposals need to look at basic economic principles. When we had decoupled payments, beef price was €2.50/kg.

“When you hear the meat industry looking for a coupled payment you should know it’s because they are seeing dollar signs.

“It’s clear that current problems will not be solved when farmers are desperately trying to get cattle into factories because supply is exceeding demand in markets that can afford a viable price,” he said.

Halley said that if the decision is made to close down other schemes to fund a new scheme, then the industry need to be very precise about devising a scheme that puts real money into the pockets of the farmer.


“The biggest loss to cattle and sheep farmers was the old REPS scheme where farmers typically got up to €10,000 for providing a tidy, biodiverse landscape which gave multiple benefits to rural economies," he said.

Unless something is done soon, there will be no suckler sector in a few years’ time

“In reality, the CAP budget needs to be increased in line with inflation. For too long, politicians have accepted an ongoing erosion of the value of CAP supports in real terms and then they wonder why farmers are angry. No other sector would accept payments which have not increased in line with inflation since the 1990s.

“It is now time for the Government to wake up to the threat faced by the suckler and beef sectors. We need a concerted effort to get more and more live exports and, of course, ICSA is demanding a Brexit rescue package from the EU to cover losses sustained over the past few months. Unless something is done soon, there will be no suckler sector in a few years’ time.”

REPS scheme

Halley said that one decent REPS-type scheme is what’s required to put money back in suckler farmers’ pockets.

“Suckler farmers are fed up of the current array of schemes which are just not delivering. There are too many terms and conditions attached and they are of no real benefit financially to farmers at the end of the day.

“Farmers are sick and tired of talking shops; the time has come for action,” he said.

“Suckler farmers do not want a scheme where state bodies are telling them what kind of cow to breed.

"They do not want a scheme where they are being pushed towards half-bred cows from the dairy herd for replacements.

“But they also don’t want a scheme that simply allows meat factories to keep prices low in the knowledge that suckler farmers are locked into a scheme that guarantees supplies of loss-making cattle,” he said.

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Taoiseach ‘cannot rule out’ general election
Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin have both addressed the issue of a general election as counting in the local and European elections continues.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, when questioned by RTÉ on Sunday evening, said he could not rule out a general election, but he would not be seeking to dissolve the Dáil in the next few days or weeks.

He cited the need to have a stable government in light of Brexit, which he said would continue for a long time, as well as the autumn budget and potentially by-elections at the same time.

While the Taoiseach said that “others could pull the plug on the Government”, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin indicated that his party would continued with the current confidence and supply agreement.

He said it was prepared to “work constructively in terms of framing a Budget because of the prospect of a no-deal Brexit".

Local elections

By midnight on Sunday, some 820 of the 949 seats have been filled nationwide, with Fianna Fáil taking 26.9% of first preference votes and Fine Gael taking 25.2%.

Independent candidates claimed 19.6% of first preference votes, while Sinn Fein took 9.5%, Labour took 5.8% and the Green Party took 5.6%.

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Waterford start-up VirtualVet helping farmers to track animal drug usage
Waterford firm VirtualVet is an international company that tracks drug usage in animals associated with the human food chain.

VirtualVet is one of the agricultural finalists at this year’s National Enterprise Awards, which is taking place on 29 May.

The Waterford start-up formed three years ago and now has five members of staff.

VirtualVet tracks and works to change drug usage in the food chain.

VirtualVet serves three markets:

  • Farmers who must record usage under compliance.
  • Agri-food and animal health industries.
  • Governments monitoring drug usage in the food chain.
  • Services provided

    Speaking with co-founder and managing director of VirtualVet Sinead Quealy, we learned how the company works and gathers the useful drug-usage data.

    “We provide a free service to farmers gathering information on a farm level about their drug usage on animals, which benefits them, as it covers their compliance,” Sinead said.

    “VirtualVet then gets paid for this data by other companies interested in analysing drug usage in the food chain, such as ABP.

    "Pharmaceutical companies also have recently begun requesting this data.”

    “At the moment, 100% of our work is focused on the agriculture sector, but there is potential for movement into drug usage in humans and harnessing the useful data.”


    On reaching the National Enterprise Awards final, Sinead said: “By arriving to this point in the competition, we have gotten the chance to make assessments of the company that we wouldn’t have done otherwise.

    "By preparing ourselves for judging and presentation to the external public, we have been able to make significant improvements to the company.”

    VirtualVet was the winners of this year’s Waterford Local Enterprise Awards and is hoping for success on the national stage this year.


    The National Enterprise Awards celebrate small businesses from across the country, focusing on start-ups, innovation and exports, with the finals taking place on 29 May at the Mansion House, Dublin.

    There is over €40,000 in prizes to be won, with the overall winner taking home €10,000.

    Terra NutriTech was last year’s winners, an ag-tech company that specialises in precision liquid supplementation for livestock.

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    Win a tractor for a tenner in charity raffle
    Farmers and machinery enthusiasts have until September to buy raffle tickets to be in with a chance of winning a tractor.

    A 1982 Massey Ferguson 240 is being raffled off this September. The raffle is in aid of Donegal Breast Cancer Clinic and Kevin’s Kids Fund. The tickets are €10 each or three for €25.

    The recently refurbished tractor will be on display at the Inish Tractor Road Run 2019 on Sunday 2 June, which is also in aid of the two charities. The tractor run will leave Malin Head at 11am and tour the Inishowen Peninsula.

    Raffle tickets are available to win this tractor

    “We try to do it for charities that are not Government funded,” said Gary Monagle from the organising committee. “Last year, we raised €23,000.”


    There are eight people on the committee and they all volunteer their time to organise the tractor run and refurbish the tractor that is being raffled off.

    “A right bit of work has been done on the tractor. There are 2,500 hours on it and it’s from England.

    "All the agricultural shops around the area helped us out by donating paint or whatever we needed,” Monagle said.

    If you want to get involved in the tractor run or buy raffle tickets, you can visit the Facebook page.

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